After fighting off the demonic invasion in her home world, the Exarch Yrel enters the Nexus to fight side by side with her allies once again. Justin 'Justing' Gapp, the warrior player and captain for the North American Team Octalysis, semifinalist of Western Clash 2017, quaterfinalist of Mid-Season Brawl 2017, Blizzcon 2017 and Western Clash 2018, shared with us a different approach to playing this hero.
Justin "Justing" Gapp
Warrior player and captain for the North American team Octalysis, semifinalist of WC 2017, quaterfinalist of MSB 2017, Blizzcon 2017 and WC 2018.
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Yrel is a melee warrior who focuses on supporting her allies and providing disruption on the battlefield. All of her basic abilities come with a charge up mechanic, simillar to Blaze's Combustion. While Justing likes her kit, he feels the channel makes it a bit choppy. "I think her kit is really unique and she's really fun to play. Her base kit works together really well having obvious combos like E'ing behind someone and instant W knocking them back," he says and explains her biggest weakness. "I don't like that all of her abilities can be interrupted by CC and put on full cooldown. That makes her feel really hard to play in a real teamfight scenario. Also the wind up on her abilities feels a little restraining too, if it didn't slow her down so much or for as long her kit would feel amazing."
A different playstyle
Justing originally tried playing her like a Haymaker Muradin but felt it was not the right way. "My first thought playing her was that you would charge your E up, jump behind someone and activate your D to get an instant W knockback. That is however not the reality of what she is good at and meant to do. Her E range isn't really long enough to do that so we learned pretty fast she was mostly just used for peel."
Because of this, Justing kept experimenting with Yrel and eventually came up with a bodyguard playstyle based around her level 4, 7 and 13 talents. "It's really weird and not how I expected her to be played at first but basically you just stay close to your carry and once you're 4 you actually jump on them to give them the armor bonus which lasts for 5 seconds on a 6 second cooldown," he says. "At 7 you literally start walking around with your W charged all the time since it actually speeds you up with that talent. Then at 13 you end up casting your W to peel anyone who gets to your carry and then reducing their damage by 30% with a D Q." It is the synergy between the level 4 and 13 talents that almost doubles the effective health of your carry, that makes him so much harder to kill. In addition, all of those effects are AoE, which allows Yrel to protect her entire team.
The bodyguard build
Justing usually takes the Light of Karabor at level 1, but he doesn't mind adjusting the build if needed. "From my experience the 4, 7 and 13 are only 'mandatory' talents. So, if you are against Valla or Greymane for example, the armor would be really strong. Also if you are solo laning, the heal on auto attacks feels really good in the early game."
Unlike other professional players, Justing doesn't like the Gift of the Naaru talent. "From my perspective, her job is almost exclusively to peel. So doing anything you can to make your team tankier and safer just seems better," he says. "Also I think she's best in comps where your team is grouping a lot so the armor gets more value that way and 5/6 seconds uptime is pretty high. Your whole team pretty much always has 25 armor."
It is level 7 where the playstyle changes. Because of Righteous Momentum, Justing starts walking around with fully charged hammer, waiting for someone to try to hit his carry. Despite looking funny ingame, it does actually come with a few benefits. "Basically if I can charge my W with the 7 talent without being slowed before the fight, I can have it ready whenever I need it and then still have the option to use the trait on either E or Q, especially at 13," he says. "It just lets me get more abilities in a shorter time frame. Without the 7 talent I pretty much have to commit to using my D on my W to peel for my team."
Justing's feels like his go-to heroic, the Sacred Ground, is almost mandatory in most of the games. "I think on paper its just the stronger ultimate by far because of the low cooldown of 40 seconds, you can basically use it at the start of almost every fight around an objective or even small skirmishes like camp invades, almost like Blaze's bunker," he says and also adds, what he thinks about the second heroic. "If the other team had a lot of burst damage I could situationally go Ardent defender but I wouldnt be happy about it. Its basically the same as 2 Medivh's Protects stuck together with a 100 second cooldown so the other ultimate is just vastly superior most of the time."
Aldor Peacekeeper, the AoE damage reduction talent, at level 13 is almost always a must pick according to Justing. "I think you would want to go Aldor Peacekeeper almost every game. The issue with Velens is that you need to hit heroes with fully charged abilities which at the higher levels of play is pretty hard and repentance just seems to go against her playstyle."
While the warrior player prefers the armor reduction from Templar's Verdict at 16, he thinks that the Divine Favor can be good in certain situations. "If you have more sustained damage and can't benefit much from the 16 armor shred then the cdr can be strong too."
Hallowed Ground allows Yrel to engage, disengage or move around the objective while maintaining the armor and is a strong level 20 talent. However you should not underestimate the Seraphim against CC heavy teams. The 2 seconds unstopable on a 10 second cooldown is too good to pass in that situation. "If you are having your abilities interrupted constantly then Seraphim might be almost necessary."
Yrel's place in the meta
Because of this bodyguard playstyle, Justing thinks that Yrel does not fit into a solo warrior compositions. "We found it's best to play her with a double support/tank with a hypercarry and just out sustain the enemy and peel them. Because if the mindset is just to peel I don't think she gets hard countered by heroes like ETC but if she ever thought about using her E aggressively she would," he says. "She doesn't want to go in and engage she wants a point she can protect, so any map where the opponent really needs to come to you, like Infernal Shrines, Towers of Doom, Cursed Hollow or Volskaya, could be good. He also mentions a few maps you should avoid picking Yrel on. "I'd avoid maps like Dragon Shire, Tomb, Sky Temple. She doesn't have the engage or ability to get picks on those maps and the objective doesn't force you to a specific point on a strict time frame."
Yrel has an interesting design and can be played a few different ways, but what is Justing's final verdict on the hero? "She feels fun to play and you feel like you're doing a lot when you play her but right now her numbers just feel a little low. Also the long windup times on her abilities coupled with the fact they slow her down can make her frustrating against certain team comps. So I expect she will get buffed a bit so she does more damage and then she will become a very high skill cap hero with a lot of utility and outplay potential."
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